• Autumnal Adventure: Boost Your Weekend Plans With A Road Trip

    Just because summer has left (sob), it doesn’t mean that getaways, adventures, and road trips towards National Trust locations (as you know we have joined recently), need to be forgotten until next year. If you have a car, caravan, or a camper van; you have the means to get away, even if it’s just for a night, or over a weekend. Braving cooler weather conditions is all part of the fun, and the focus can be on quality time with those you love, and plenty of physical exercise and activities, so you can make some great memories. Or, perhaps you need a little solo escape, for a mindful and relaxing break; there’s no better time of year to make the most of the UK countryside!

    It can be as simple as popping your fingers down on a map and heading out on a Friday evening, or Saturday morning, with plenty of supplies in tow. So, if you’re missing the fun of summer; keep the momentum going, and utilise your weekends more. The following are some tips, ideas, and advice on taking a road trip with your partner, pooch, or friends; for those who love an adventure.

    Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-book-business-cactus-297755/

     

    The Car

    Consider popping some blackout stickers on the windows in the back of your car; this will ensure that the sunlight doesn’t overheat any backseat passengers (especially if you have a dog), and the temperature of the vehicle stays consistent. Put your favourite radio station or music on; however, make sure that the designated driver can concentrate properly and isn’t distracted by any loud noises. It’s worth giving the car a once-over before setting off, and ensure that you’re fully insured; check out sites like https://cheapautoinsurance.co/ so that you can find a suitable option for you and your car. Obviously, you’ll need plenty of car snacks; stock up on nibbles and drinks, and make the most of all those quaint pit stops and cafes along the way.

     

    The Destination

    You’ll need to choose a place, or places, that are within reach so that you can get there and back successfully within the space of your weekend. This is why it’s great to have a planned destination in mind before you set off, so you can work out how much time it’ll take, where to refuel, and how much time you can spend there, in advance of your journey. Maybe there’s a location that’s sentimental, and you want to show your other half a childhood fave, or perhaps there’s a festival or event happening that you will both love, or maybe you just need to escape into nature, and a forest or coastal setting will be the perfect place to do so. As long as you’ve packed all the right gear, have enough petrol in the tank to get there and back, and can’t wait to spend quality time with your favourites; you’ll have an adventure to remember, every time you set out on the open road. Autumn in the UK is a beautiful time, so why not make the most of it this weekend!

    *collaborative post

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    The Price Is Right: Everything You Need To Know About Pricing Your Property

    When selling a property, there is no denying that getting the price right is one of the most critical aspects. A lot of people assume that lowering the asking price is the best way to secure a quick sale but this is not always the case. Below, we will reveal everything you need to know about pricing your property.

    https://pixabay.com/en/key-house-house-keys-home-estate-2114455/

     

    Price is not the problem

    Price matters, of course, it does! You need to price your home correctly, but you certainly don’t need to take the haggling approach to selling your property. The key is to make sure the valuation is well-researched and you have taken the perspective of several professionals. If your home is struggling to sell, you can be confident that the price is not the problem. Why? Because buyers don’t buy based on the amount your home is on the market for.

    If someone was not interested in your property when it cost £240,000 they are not going to be interested if you offer it to them for cheaper. No one bargain hunts when looking for a home. Yes, you look for value, but you don’t look for the cheapest property. Let’s say you are shopping for a new top. You may go on River Island’s website and click to rearrange the tops in order of cheapest to most expensive. Would you ever do that with properties? No, you would type in your price range instead, i.e. £200,000 to £250,000. A buyer sets their budget from the off-set. They search based on this budget. So, if they view your home and they don’t make an offer, it’s definitely not because of the price!

    How to value your home

    Have you ever wondered how your estate agent valued your home? How did they get to the value they suggested? Let’s take a look at some of the main aspects of your property that will determine its value…

    •   Property type
    •   Age of your home
    •   The features and fixtures of your property
    •   The standard of building work and the state of repair
    •   What locality your home is situated in
    •   If local amenities are available

    These six factors will generally help you to determine your home’s worth. So, why use an estate agent’s assistance at all? So you can take advantage of their inside expertise.

    Estate agents will factor in the market value of your property. They do this by looking at several different factors, like…

    •   The asking price of properties comparable to yours in the local area
    •   Sale price of comparable properties
    •   Demand and supply forces
    •   The strength of the local market

     

    You can use these factors too to get a better understanding. Take a look at this page on HDB Yishun. You can zoom in on properties based on the street they are on, so you can get a fully accurate picture regarding the property market in the area. These are the sort of resources you should be using.

    So now you have a rounded view of the various factors that are taking into account in order to determine the value of your home. It’s definitely worth doing your own research but you should also get several estate agents to value your home as well. You can then use this to come up with the best asking price!

     

    What do when your estate agent doesn’t believe in your asking price?

    Did you decide on your asking price? If so, you may be happy with it, but is your estate agent? This is a question you need to ask them. Don’t shy away from the answer! If your estate agent is not confident in your asking price it will undoubtedly sabotage your chances of selling your property – and your viewers will get a sense that something is not quite right.

    Unfortunately, estate agents aren’t magicians! They can’t sell your house at literally any asking price you desire. If they don’t feel like they can sell your house at the price you have valued it they are going to feel somewhat disengaged. They won’t put in as much effort to sell your home because they probably feel like it’s not worth it. Plus, all it takes is for them to accidentally say ‘it’s always worth making an offer’ for the viewer to dedicate that the agent is not confident in your price and thus you may be willing to budge.

    So, what can you do about it? Well, it is up to you to make your estate agent feel confident about the price you are asking for your home. The only way to do this is to back it up with cold hard facts. Do your research on comparable properties in the market and if you can do a price per square foot comparison table you should.

     

    Is the number 9 stopping your home from selling?

    What is the difference between a property that is on the market for £299,999 and one that’s available for £300,000? A pint of milk? A bar of chocolate? A trip to Poundland? Actually, the difference could be receiving no offers and selling your home! £1 may be nothing in monetary terms, but it is everything when it comes to marketing your property.

    Why? Well, there are several reasons! Firstly, £299,999 is quite simply less appealing! No one likes the bargain feel of buying a house. You purchase within your budget and that’s that. It works in supermarkets with baked goods priced at 99p instead of £1.00 but it doesn’t work with properties.

    You are also putting yourself at a big disadvantage when placing your property on portals. Popular portals, like Rightmove, allow people to search for a property based on their price range in the following format, for example, £250,000 – £300,000. If you put your house on the market at £300,000 not only will you fall into the category mentioned, but also the £300,000 – £350,000 range. So, you double your exposure! But, a house priced at £299,999 will only fit into the first section, so you limit your chances to sell.

     

    Does dropping the asking price ever work?

    I guarantee if I was to randomly go up to a bunch of people on the street and ask them what they would do if their home wasn’t selling most of them would say ‘lower the price’. This is one of the biggest myths about selling your home! Rarely does it ever work.

    Generally speaking, there is only one exception to the rule, and this is when the market has changed significantly. If your home has been on the market for a while it is always a good idea to get it re-valued. You may need to adapt the price in order to accommodate a changing market. If your neighbours have houses on the market and theirs are priced much lower than yours, you need to get back in the competition.

    But, lowering your asking price just because you are panicking and views have stalled is never a good idea! It doesn’t say ‘wow bargain home’ it says ‘problem home’. A price reduction indicates that there is something wrong with your property. If you do not have confidence in what you are selling, why is a buyer going to? Let me tell you a little secret: buyers never purchase a house based on price!

    *collaborative post
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    Friendly Money Advice To Give To New Graduates

    Graduating is liberating in many ways. Finally after years of studying and taking exams, you’re free from the classroom or lecture hall and can do whatever it is you want in life. You will finally get the taste of true freedom where no one asks anything from you and you can be your own person. This also means you don’t have anyone to hold your hand financially. Speaking of money, it’s time to formulate a plan of how you are going to pay off your student loans. The average student will have tens of thousands of pounds of debt and the universities and student loan companies want you to make payments as soon as possible. It’s therefore priority that you start to save more than you spend. But since it’s their first time out in the real world, we need to give them the best advice possible.

    Move in small

    After having lived in student digs, possibly sharing it with other people, it’s tempting to buy a place that is large. However, we must urge graduates to not get a place they won’t be able to afford in hard times. Don’t allow their wants to overcome their needs. Bigger places often come with hefty rent prices, and you never know when or if they will be in danger of losing their job. Anything could happen really, because the economy is not in our own hands. The reasons for living frugally and renting a small apartment far outweigh getting a large apartment for just one person. And this goes for anyone, regardless of what profession they are in.

      

    Monkey on the shoulder

    No doubt that graduates are already thinking about how their student loans will affect their lifestyle. As considerate adults we need to give them advice on how to form a plan and start paying it back. The longer it takes them they more they will pay. Advise them that they don’t want to reach their 40s and 50s with student loan payments still being taken out of their bank account. Direct them toward a cost of debt calculator which can sum up what they owe. Utilise the student loan hero website and tools, so an easy plan can be made for them. When this is in order, all they have to do is stick to it. Half the battle is over because they now know how much they need to save each month to live a decent life while also keeping the monkey off their shoulder.

    Time for partying is over

    Now that they have left the confines of their colleges and universities, they need to live frugally until they have made significant savings. The time for partying and wasting money on drinks is over. They should stick to going out to bars and clubs once a week at the most. They will save a lot of money over the coming months and years just by not going to drinking holes around the city they live in.

    Saving money and one day becoming debt free should be every graduates main focus. They will never get the burden of debt off their backs until they learn to live responsibly on their own and not expect assistance from anyone. Yes, it’s to be a grown up!

    *collaborative post
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    My Lump and Me: A story of finding my lump and what’s happening so far

    4 weeks ago I came home, took my bra off (who DOESN’T do this?) and went to the loo. A normal after work ritual.

    I always check my boobs but that night I had an itch to the left of my left breast where my bra had been and I felt a large swollen lump. At first I thought it was where I had taken my bra off which had been a little tight by the end of the day.

    Lump Location

    My first instinct was to check the right hand side of my body in the same place and I couldn’t feel the same lump there.

    It didn’t feel like a hard ball, it didn’t feel smooth, it sort of felt like an orange or satsuma.

    I went to the mirror and checked it out, to see if it was visible. It was.

    I felt a bit sick but thought it would probably be nothing. I ran downstairs and asked Claire if she could see a difference. At first she couldn’t see anything but when I moved my arm across my body she could clearly see the lump. She could feel it too.

    I decided to sleep on it but if it was still there in the morning I would immediately book an appointment to go to the GP that day.

    In the morning I woke up and although it didn’t feel as big it was still there. It doesn’t move, it feels attached, stuck in one place.  I booked the appointment for that morning.

    I went to the doctors, was examined, weighed and asked if I had considered weight loss surgery (I mean, come on!) and I was given antibiotics initially, mainly because I said it hurt (which it does when you prod it). I think they were worried it might be an infection. I was asked to come back in two weeks but the only appointment was in 8 days. I booked it. Surely I would see a difference?

    By the appointment on the Friday I still had the lump. The antibiotics had not worked.

    I went to see another GP in the practice who said that the size of it was his only concern. Normally they would say it was just a Lipoma (a fatty fibrous lump) but the size concerned him so he sent me for an urgent Ultrasound. He measured it at around 5 inches. He confirmed it was not in my breast but more to the side and towards the pleural cavity.

    I had a call a couple of days after inviting me to the Ultrasound on the following Friday. This was a relief. I felt that this would clear all of it up and it would be the end of it.

    Lump radiologist

    The following Friday I went to the Ultrasound appointment. On arrival I was given a gown to ‘cover my decency’ and I replied that it would take more than a gown to make me decent to two deadpan faces.  (HEY, IT WAS HILARIOUS!)

    As the radiologist did the ultrasound I joked once again asking if there were teeth in there or fingernails as it could be a missing twin… again….NOTHING (come on guys, I thought it was really funny!).

    He mentioned it was ‘attached’ and ‘too deep’ to be a Lipoma, fatty lump. He confirmed that he wasn’t sure and that further tests would be expected to see it properly. The Ultrasound really wasn’t able to make a clear picture.

    I wasn’t worried. I could see it wasn’t one solid lump. Like lots of little things clumped together really – a bit like it feels.

    In my head I was still ok but the following Tuesday I was called by my doctor with my results and asked to come in.

    Things you need to know about me:

    1. I don’t get overly emotional and I am not really a cryer
    2. I am not a worrier
    3. I can compartmentalise logic and the unknown quite easily
    4. I don’t crumble from bad news

    However, I had a wave of fear but thought maybe they just wanted to reaffirm my need for additional scans.

    At 5.40 that evening I had my appointment. I had been working all day so I was distracted.

    The doctor sat me down and said that the test was abnormal. I knew this. He said they needed to do more scans. I knew this too. He then said that they had said it could be a Sarcoma. I didn’t know this. I asked what it was. He said that Sarcomas are a Cancer. I didn’t know this.

    I was ok when he was telling me because in my head I decided that he was only telling me the worst case scenario and it’s more than likely NOT Cancer. I mean how can it be? I feel ok. I am not in pain or feel sick. I put that to him. And he replied that that can be the case. Apparently Sarcoma can just grow. Anywhere. And you only notice when you notice.

    He told me he has urgently requested the scan and I will be in within 2 weeks.

    I replied that at least then I will know it’s NOT Cancer. Because as I left that office and that GP surgery I was in complete denial about it possibly being cancer.

    However, when I got home it festered. It has festered so much.

    The next day I woke up and I was upset (another stage of grief?). I kept spontaneously crying. I was meant to be in a meeting in Manchester that day and I was getting ready but I couldn’t stop crying.

    As I said before, I don’t cry often.

    However I felt scared. Suddenly I was scared because it is the unknown.

    I was going to wait till I had my results to share this story but I feel like I need to share it now.

    I just kept thinking that this is really terrifying too, that MANY MANY people who have Cancer and who do not but went because of a lump or another issue have been through this too.

    All of a sudden I was one of them. I felt such a different empathy.

    When I heard the words, when I felt the things the next morning and how I feel now I can only assume every person has done this that has been in this position.

    The things that scare me the most at this point if it turns out to be cancer:

    1. How long was it there that I didn’t know about?
    2. What if it’s terminal?
    3. Will I be only about the cancer?
    4. How will I support my family?
    5. What will Claire do?
    6. How do we fix it?
    7. Can we fix it?

    On top of all this I have some really rubbish family stuff going on, how will I cope? How will they? Will they?

    This blog post is either the beginning of a difficult and long story or it’s the beginning of the shortest horror story of all time.

    I do hope it’s the latter.

    I know me, I know I will challenge whatever happens. I know it will  be a fight I will really fight. I have a lot of strength. I have a great support network. I know I can do it.

    But till I know I don’t know how much effort I need to put in to fight.

    I will keep up the blog posts because if this raises awareness at all and it helps one person I will be happy.

    In the meantime I will leave the link to Sarcoma UK – the national charity for Sarcoma Awareness. Please check it out. It’s not something I had heard of so it’s important to highlight it.

    Lump Pinterest Post Image

     

     

     

     

     

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    Reigniting my passion for reading with Audible

    Audible caught me by surprise because when I was younger I was a proper bookworm, my nose was in a book and always was, up till I was about 25 and the internet really took off. I ended up working so hard and doing so much in my spare time I didn’t have time to read anymore.

    audible 1

    Over the last 10 years or so I read a couple of books a year but never as much as I wanted or could really get back in to.

    However, a year ago I decided to trial Audible.

    The main reason to trial it was to download and listen to Harry Potter. Although I had seen the movies I had never read the books and everyone told me they were excellent. I felt like I had missed out as I knew it would have been something I really enjoyed. Also, Stephen Fry, that wonderful man, was the narrator.

    My second reason for the trial was starting a new job, 1 hour from home. With 2 hours a day to kill in the car and not always wanting to listen to music I thought it would be a good way to bring my mood up in the morning and help me to de-stress on the way home.

    After I finished the first book I was hooked. I decided to pay the £7.99 which allows you 1 credit per month. This credit can be exchanged for any book at any price. The thing is, audio books are expensive. At least 3 x the price of a book. Sometimes they have deals on where you can purchase 2 for 1 in a certain selection and that credit will still be applied for the two, which I have done twice now.

    You also get the option to purchase more credits if you would like. 3 additional credits costs £18 so £6 a book. Still a fantastic discount and really, new books cost about £6.99 on the whole (if physical books) so I feel the cost is justified.

    What makes listening so much better than reading

    The number 1 thing about listening to a story being read is the voice of the narrator. Every book so far I have listened to, the narrator has been great at differentiating the characters with their voice, whether it’s an accent change or an adjustment in tone. I do this in my own head anyway so it’s nice to hear it realistically.

    The second pro is it means I get to listen to books I wouldn’t have picked up to read usually. By this I mean there are stories which I struggle, linguistically or the subject to get my head in to, however I have listened to more things other than just my usual chick-lit that used to devour my bookshelf.

    My initial foray in to listening to audio books was when a friend lent me a CD audio book, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. A book I would never have picked up. The setting, the storyline, everything about the book would not have drawn me to it. However, it still is to this day one of the best books I have ‘read’. I found the story so enthralling, willing the characters all the time and loving the descriptions of the areas which I found myself. Yet still, if in a bookshop, I wouldn’t pick anything like it up.

    The practicality of listening to books is what makes it great for me. As I said I have 2 hours in my car (that’s a minimum too) every week day. I like being entertained. I also believe that book reading or listening is important for broadening language. My job and my hobby (this blog) both include writing. Who wouldn’t want to enhance their skills this way?

    Why I chose audible?

    Audible is part of Amazon and I felt that it lead the way in terms of audio books. Most of the official audio books are on the list. I have yet to come across any books which have not been featured on here. It’s not to say it won’t happen but it’s definitely not been a struggle so far.

    I know this isn’t a free service but I think they have the balance right in how many credits you get per month. Although I started with one credit per month I am moving towards two credits which is £14.99 per month.

    I did once (a long time ago) download an app that had free audio books on but the narrators were really bad, not easy to listen to, almost digital voices.

    In summary

    I have to say my passion for reading has been reignited because of audio books and I would highly recommend to anyone giving it a try. Believe it or not I am not affiliated to or have been asked to write anything, this is completely my own experience.

    They do have a free trial so if you did want to give it a go you have 30 days to change your mind.

    I will be reviewing books and giving you an update on what I’m listening each month (check out my last post) so keep an eye out for those.

    Do you have an account already?

    Would you try one?

     

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